Background-Information: Joint Harmonised EU-Programme of Business and Consumer Surveys
Since 1996 WIFO takes part on the Joint Harmonised EU Programme of Business and Consumer Surveys which is coordinated by the
European Commission - Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs.
Concept of the survey
The main idea of the WIFO business survey is to identify reliable and profound theoretical indicators which can be
carried out by companies as fast and as easy as possible to derive the status of the economic cycle. A simple survey
design assures a low burden for the participating companies. The target was to develop a question¬naire which should be answered
by a skilled person in less than 5 minutes.
In most cases the evaluation is performed by calculating balances. This means that the share of positive answers of a question
will be subtracted by the share of negative answers.
Q: In the next three month our production will
1) grow 2) be nearly constant 3) decline
If 300 construction companies out 1.000 answer the question above with "grow" and 500 assume a "nearly constant" development
and 200 state a "decline" then the result will be a positive balance of 10 percentage points (30%-20%).
There are some exceptions from this evaluation concept with balances. This mainly encounters with questions which do not fit
to this general three staged survey concept. These questions are for example about capacity utilisation or the stock of orders.
In the case of capacity utilisation the arithmetic mean in % will be derived, in the case of the stock of orders the share
of companies (in %) which have a sufficient or more than sufficient stock of orders.
A further "speciality" is the occurrence of so called seasonal effects. These are patterns in the results of the business
survey, which occur on an annual basis. It is known that companies' production expectations decline in autumn every year and
revive towards the end of the year. These changes are not related to the economic cycle and therefore these special effects
will be discounted. WIFO uses, in accordance with the European Commission, the DAINTIES method to make these seasonal adjustments.